Bibhash Mukhopadhyay’s entry into biotech may have been a happy accident, but his approach as a founding partner at Sound Bioventures is entirely by design. For Mukhopadhyay, the cornerstone of a future-proofed firm with a global reach is a leadership philosophy that embodies decency and humility.
Mukhopadhyay credits a few pivotal moments in his career to pure chance.
When he was completing his Ph.D. in Biological and Biomedical Sciences, a mentor asked him to help with due diligence for a drug development project. The work leveraged his skills in a new way, and he took to it immediately, diving into the primary literature and consulting professors to assess the data.
“It was fascinating to be able to apply what you learn in books and papers to figure out if you can target a specific biology with a therapeutic,” recalls Mukhopadhyay. That sparked a career in big pharma, where he worked in corporate development and learned everything he could about drug development and effective management.
Then providence intervened once again. Mukhopadhyay was reaching out to a contact in biotech venture capital to see if they wanted to license a drug that the company he worked for was de-prioritizing. But instead of a direct answer, Mukhopadhyay received a job offer. He took the leap and spent the next seven years sharpening his skills in biotech investing.
“The most important thing is how we treat people,” says Bibhash Mukhopadhyay, Managing Partner, Sound Bioventures.
By 2022, when Mukhopadhyay teamed up with Johan Kördel and Casper Breum to start Sound Bioventures, he decided not to leave anything to fate. He knew drug development, he knew management, and he had a clear vision for the road ahead.
Mukhopadhyay and his co-founders of Sound Bioventures set out to build a firm distinguished by its values. Advancing therapeutics while making money for investors was the main goal, but another goal was simply to be decent.
“The most important thing is how we treat people,” he says. “Treat people fairly, treat people with respect. Even if you disagree, have a logical basis for your disagreement and don’t bring in ego.”
The key, as Mukhopadhyay explains, is to stay grounded in two essential realities of biotech venture capital. First, drug development can touch, and even save, people’s lives. Second, being a VC means shepherding other people’s money. That includes capital managers who have trusted the firm to make investments with their capital. But Mukhopadhyay also stays mindful of people like the farmer in Kansas or the retiree in Gothenburg who may have indirectly invested a portion of their pensions through those capital managers.
“I always say as an investor, you should understand where your money is coming from and who has given you that responsibility,” says Mukhopadhyay. “Once you realize this, it’s very, very humbling.”
Sound Bioventures’ founding values are instrumental to another goal that’s personally important to Mukhopadhyay: ensuring that the firm endures long into the future.
From the founders’ earliest discussions, they knew they wanted to establish something that would outlast them. That takes more than just succeeding with their investments. “At some point, Johan will go away, Casper will go away, I will go away,” says Mukhopadhyay. “We will not be fully successful if we don’t have the next generation of leaders taking the mantle.”
As he sees it, a firm that’s built on individual personalities can succeed for a while, but one built on core values and strong domain knowledge can thrive across generations. As new leaders take the reins, they can evolve operations to suit their new contexts while remaining true to Sound Bioventures’ roots of being decent, dedicated, confident, and humble.
“You continue those founding values, yet you reinvent yourself as a firm,” says Mukhopadhyay.
With Sound Bioventures maintaining offices in Malmö, Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Washington, D.C., Mukhopadhyay is currently the only team member based in the United States. But he doesn’t feel that distance in the team collaborations or when interacting with stakeholders.
On the contrary, he sees the international boots-on-the-ground operation as a distinct advantage. The firm chose to embrace some strategic limitations — like focusing on specialty therapeutics — without limiting itself to any one region. Having a transatlantic network helps them find the right innovations to invest in and then deliver greater value to those they fund. “Just opening up doors on both sides of the Atlantic will be a direct tangible benefit for our portfolio companies,” says Mukhopadhyay.
And to him, developing a global brand just makes sense. Mukhopadhyay emphasizes how disease, capital, and the talent to innovate all transcend borders.
“If those three elements are global, why on earth would you restrict yourself to one specific geography?” he says.